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“The Israeli economy, actually any economy, is based on the middle class, the person who works and pays taxes,” Lapid wrote on his Facebook page. “If you enable him to enjoy normal living conditions and let him feel that the government is standing behind him, he will flourish and the country will flourish with him.
“True, these are tough times, and yes, in order to close a [government] overdraft of more than NIS 30 billion, we also need to take tough decisions,” Lapid acknowledged in his piece Monday. “I will do that because I am not prepared to see Israel turned into Greece or Cyprus on my watch. Maybe every finance minister says this, but just because it’s the truth. On the other hand, if we don’t protect the middle class, the economy will stop and the overdraft will grow even larger. That’s also the truth and that also won’t happen on my watch.”
Lapid’s Facebook posting was based on the example of a Mrs. Cohen, a 37-year-old high school teacher from Hadera, who together with her husband have a household income of just over NIS 20,000 a month. “It could be that the beginning will be hard,” he wrote, “but with time, the people who carry the whole country on their backs will discover that they are no longer the cash machine that the country goes to whenever it has a problem.”
In response, Meretz MK Issawi Freij, said a couple earning over NIS 20,000 a month is not middle class. Referring to wealthy Tel Aviv-area neighborhoods, Freij retorted that Lapid is actually working “not for the mythical Mrs. Cohen from Hadera but rather for Mrs. Levy from Ramat Hasharon and Mrs. Berkowitz from Ramat Aviv.”